Longevity and improved health are the promising expectations we’ve placed on wearables, according to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Yet more than half of consumers that own a wearable device don’t use it every day. We’ve already seen a rise and fall of excitement over fitness trackers in particular, with Nike reducing its dedicated wearables staff and waning consumer interest. Yet the smartwatch market seems bullish thanks to new initiatives from Apple, Samsung and Microsoft, looking to combine the smartphone and the fitness tracker into a single, wearable timepiece.
The past week reiterates manufacturers’ goal to create more value from a single wearable device, with Fitbit, Jawbone and Fitbug raising the bar on hardware capabilities, device design and niche software incentives.
Fitbit adds smartwatch features to fitbands
Fitbit is combining popular smartwatch features into its fitness bands with a fresh lineup launched this month. Starting with the $129.95 Charge, Fitbit now offers a sleep and activity tracker that also lets you see incoming calls if your phone is nearby. Charge also displays the current time, your daily stats, can sync wirelessly to your smartphone or computer, and can wake you with a silent alarm. For an extra $20 you can get the upgraded Charge HR for heart rate monitoring.
The priciest in Fitbit’s new line is the $249.95 Surge, which the company describes as a fitness super watch. Equipped with a GPS tracker, a PurePulse heart rate monitor, multi-sport activity recording, call and text notification and music information, the Surge has it all. Also included in the Surge is a sleep tracker, a silent alarm, a battery that lasts about a week, and wireless syncing to your smartphone and computer.
Only the Charge is available for purchase now, while the Charge HR and Surge are expected to hit stores next year.
Jawbone Up3 ups the ante
Releasing the third version of its popular fitness tracker, Jawbone Up3 is touted as the company’s most advanced gadget. Featuring new programs for various health goals, the Up3 is preset with Heart Health, Smart Coach, Advances Sleep and Advances Activity for monitoring daily behaviors.
Jawbone’s Up3 also comes with a wake-up alarm, step and calories-burned trackers, and will notify you for extended idleness. You can set goals with the Up3, log food and drink intake, share data with friends and family, and the fitness band is waterproof up to 10 meters.
As far as design goes, the Up3 has been revamped in appearance as well. Textured skins in black and silver give the Up3 a sleek new look, and the smartband is also more flexible to fit all sizes, thanks to embedded sensor technology.
“Getting the flexible strap right was a key priority. UP3 is one-size-fits-all device, a departure from previous Jawbone trackers. An innovative adjustable clasp was invented to allow for the sensor data to travel around the wrist and strap. The clasp mechanism allows the band to slide through a flat metal gate and lock in at just the right size for the user. This maximizes the exposure of the sensors on your skin. Achieving this was no small feat, and new clasps are rarely designed for this reason,” Yves Behar, Jawbone’s Chief Creative Officer, wrote in the company’s blog.
Kiqplan bets on niche software
While Fitbit looks to incorporate more smartwatch capabilities into its fitness band and Jawbone designs a one-size-fits-all strap, Fitbug is betting on its software design for success. Designed to work with a range of smartphones, fitness trackers and smartwatches, Fitbug’s Kiqplan platform sets out to transform you in just 12 weeks.
Pronounced ‘kick plan’, Kiqplan has four programs: Slim and Trim for basic weight loss; the Beer Belly blaster for losing weight and toning muscles; the Healthy Baby Bump to keep moms-to-be and their babies healthy during pregnancy, and a postnatal program called Goodbye Baby Bump to get new moms back into shape.
Subscribers will be provided with exercise videos, tips, advices and articles, healthy recipes, and experts to keep you motivated throughout your fitness journey.
In other Smart Design News:
Beyond fitness trackers, technology is simplifying life and businesses. A digitized peephole viewer makes retrofitting smart homes an easier task, while Starwood hotels go keyless so guests can skip the check-in line.
Brinno’s PeepHole Viewer
The peephole has just been modernized. Brinno’s new PeepHole Viewer brings the traditional peephole into the digital age with an LCD panel to display streaming video of who’s at the door. While security cameras and accompanying smartphone apps have offered this functionality in the past, Brinno simplifies things into a single device that doesn’t require you to change out your old peephole. That makes the PeepHole Viewer an affordable solution that retrofits with any home.
The PHV1325 model offers the basic feature of a peephole but allows you to see your visitors easier, while the PHV1330 model
has more advanced features such as a 3” LCD screen, image recording, brightness enhancement, a microSD card slot for up to 32GB of storage, and a motion and knocking sensor that triggers the camera. Both models use two AA batteries and have a button that allows you to either see who’s at the door or review the gallery of your visitors.
Starwood’s keyless entry
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide will officially roll out SPG Keyless, a new feature to allow guests to go straight to their booked rooms and use their smartphone to unlock their room door. Starting this week, keyless entry and remote check-in will be available in 10 Starwood hotels in Beijing, Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles and Doha, Qatar. The feature will eventually roll out to Aloft, Element and W Hotels around the globe.
“This is just the beginning, because through mobile we have the opportunity to marry high tech and high touch to transform the hotel experience in many ways,” said Frits van Paasschen, Starwood’s president & CEO.
Starwood plans to rapidly release SPG Keyless to 30,000 doors in 150 hotels worldwide by early 2015.